Every summer, the largest green field festival in the world is held in Glastonbury, a small town in the UK. 170,000 people enjoy several days of mud, music and mayhem!
I love a festival and go to at least one every year. But Glasto’s way too big for me! It is much more comfortable and easier on my feet to watch coverage on TV from the coziness of my own home.
However, there are thousands of smaller festivals all over the world. Do you love a festival or have always wanted to attend one? If so, this guide for a stress free festival should encourage you to get down with the youth and show them what us “seniors” are made of!
Many baby boomers have already enjoyed dancing in a field, followed by crawling into a cold tent at night. Attending a festival means getting back to our hippie roots for 4 or 5 hedonistic days and nights. It’s a time to experience utter freedom, in a kind of temporary bubble.
Festivals are an opportunity to be surrounded by happy, like-minded people being, doing and wearing whatever they like. After all, our generation invented festivals (along with sex, drugs and rock n’roll). In fact, I just heard a radio interview with a girl who is taking her 74-year-old father to Glastonbury for the first time. Way to go! I for one, don’t want to stop, even when I am dragging my zimmer frame through 3 inches of mud!
However, at this age, I am sure you’ll agree, we need a little more comfort. Unless you’re lucky enough to own a camper van, these are my top tips for surviving a festival, in a tent, without packing the kitchen sink. They will help you avoid doing serious damage to your back carting all that stuff across miles of fields from the car.
If you’ve never tried a festival, and you enjoy camping, then this might be the year. Give it a go – the easy way!
Unless you have a couple of strong men in tow, I would suggest leaving the tent and paraphernalia behind and going for “Boutique Camping.” This would involve sleeping in a large tent rather than the very expensive Tee Pees and Airstreams.
For little more than the price of a hotel for one night you can arrive at the site and go straight to your erected tent. They are located in a quiet area that has its own cafe, bar, toilets and showers. Book a bigger tent than you need, the extra space is so useful.
You can usually rent a camping chair, a blow up mattress and even a head torch. It will all be there waiting for you. All you need to take is a sleeping bag, your clothes and a few bits and pieces. It’s so much easier not having to grapple with dismantling a pop up tent after five days of walking miles, dancing and late nights. Why do they never pop down?
With accommodation sorted, you can now turn your thoughts to festival fashion. Choosing the right essentials can help to make it a stress-free experience. Comfort is the main name of the game when it comes to clothes. I never wear one piece or tight jeans. Instead, I always take loose clothes that are not too long. Choosing clothes that are easy to lift up or pull down in the main toilets is highly advisable.
The other tip is to stick to a color scheme and keep packing to a minimum. Only take clothes you don’t mind ruining! Khaki and orange is my current favorite theme.
Start with khaki shorts, vests and add a warm fleece or cardigan. During the day, hugely comfortable sandals were perfect for me at my last camping festival. I carry a small back pack day and night, which contains a sarong or old pashmina to lie on or wear. It also holds a rain poncho, sunglasses, sun cream, tissues, camera and water.
I wear thermals under whatever outfit I wear at night. Wearing well worn-in walking boots or wellies, with thick socks is important. I have also been known to take my parka for keeping warm and dry. It can get unbelievably cold at night in the UK, or in the desert, even after a very hot day.
When it comes to the bigger back pack, or suitcase, these are some of the other essentials I always pack to help make your experience at a festival almost comfortable:
The few extra items I always pack are a head torch, black out mask, ear plugs, small pillow and flask. When the sun comes up the mask helps you get back to sleep and is great for siestas and snoozes. The head torch is essential for your nightly routine. Ear plugs, essential to block out the loud snoring from the next tent, let alone the music!
For comfort I bring a small pillow along with my sleeping bag. Finally, I pack a thermos flask that keeps water hot for 24 hours! At my last Latitude Festival, I would fill up at the cafe last thing at night so we could have coffee or tea first thing in the morning. Even in glamping, there are lines in the morning, so this was just the best thing I have ever bought for a festival.
A minimal beauty routine at a festival means that everything is brought in miniature sizes. Rubber gloves and a couple of garbage bags are always a good idea. Energy bars are important for those middle of the night munchies, breakfast replacement or just for energy. Wet wipes are good to include. They can remove make up, get rid of stains and even act as a replacement shower if the line is too long!
And of course, don’t forget your hat. Whatever the weather, it will keep you warm or dry. It also keeps the sun off your face and hides messy hair.
Finally, I pack a tankini. There is nothing more useful than having a separate top and bottom. You can wear the top part as another top, the bottoms can double up as panties. You can wear the whole thing to cool off in a nice lake or river. So much easier than a one piece. I have even written a blog about how useful tankinis are for us over sixties.
Here’s a final check list if you’re planning to go to a festival, be it your first or your twentieth:
Sleeping bag, water bottle, small towel, thermos flask, coffee and tea bags, mugs, minimal skin care and make up, sunscreen, hat, bathing suit, comfy shoes, wellies, tissues, loo paper, party but comfy clothes, folding raincoat or poncho, light parka, thermals, portable camping seat, head torch, insect repellent, ear plugs, eye mask, hat, socks, gloves, energy bars, a highlighter pen, bin liners, rubber gloves, vitamin C, lip balm and plenty of cash.
All that remains for me to say is, pack your maddest clothes, sunglasses and hats, and a positive attitude. Have a brilliant time!
Do you still enjoy festivals? Have you always wanted to go to one but thought you were too old? Join in the conversation and share your stories.
Photo credits: Latitude Festival, Suzi Grant